This oneshot doesn’t have a appropriate level, it could vary from group to group. It is easily scalable changing the number of mobs. Also feel free to change the names if your game so needs it. The only prerequisite is that the PC’s are interested in acquiring a place to start a home-base. It can be anywhere really. They will also need access to a high sum of gold, at least 12,500gp.
When the time is right and they need a home-base, There are two options:
- They start seeking out info about it and find the scribes’ office of Sir Robert d’Avery.
- The PC’s receive an invitation from Sir Robert d’Avery to meet him and talk business.
The office is in a nice part of the city, a pretty facade. Inside they will find Sir Robert d’Avery (the con man) and his scribe and assistant Mara Tollonks. These people are scammers, what they do is: they forge official documents that prove the ownership of a building, then they set up shop, posing as scribes or notaries. They sell the property for a good discounted price and then abandon town as fast as possible, to repeat the process again in a different place.
Because the PC’s are interested in a home-base, Sir Robert will ask them to accompany him to see a keep that is just outside of town. He will show them the official documents, the Deed proves that the keep is actually property of Lord Guzma du’Boulange. There is also another scroll/document that works as a “letter of attorney” giving Sir Robert orders and authorization to sell the property. These are forgeries and they are of expert craftmanship.
The keep is old and currently unoccupied, it will need some repairs to get it running but otherwise looks like a perfect place for a band of adventurers to begin. The DMG (page128) suggests that a keep or small castle has a construction cost of 50,000gp, this keep is old and is a bit damaged, so Sir Robert is selling it for 12,500gp. With good role-playing and a Persuasion check (DC18) he can be convinced of accepting a down payment of 8000gp (after which he will leave town anyway). Depending on the party level, these sums can be adjusted accordingly.
If the PC’s accept the deal, Sir Robert will ask them for two days so that Mara the scribe can have the new Deed ready. After that they will meet in Sir Robert’s office to sign the new Deed. The document is also an expertly crafted forgery; after all the signatures, it looks legitimate to any observer. The next day Sir Robert d’Avery will leave town quietly.
The PC’s will obviously move and start repairing the Keep. After a few days, the city guard chief, along with a small detachment of troop will be sent to “deal with the brigands invading the city’s property”. After being shown the fake Deed, the chief calms down and will ask them to accompany him to speak with Lady Gloria Damascus, who is chief of scribes and the archive in the city. She will confirm that they were sold a property with false documentation. She can also produce the real Deed for the old keep.
Next is a tracking quest, the con man has several days of advantage but can be tracked down easily as he pretends to use the same name and documents again. It is just a matter of finding his office in a different city or town; where he will be plotting his next scam. This is a map of a town block where the con man’s office is located.
Sir Robert has the stats of a Noble, Mara the scribe is a Commoner. They have protection in the form of hired bodyguards. 1 veteran, 1 bandit captain and 10 bandits (for a level 5 party). If confronted directly, Sir Robert will try to escape, he is a coward and will only fight if cornered, he was in prison before for the same crime and will do anything to avoid being sent to jail again. Mara surrenders as soon as they are confronted, will beg for her life and offer her forgery skills if they spare her. The veteran leading the hired muscle is Jovan Birdkiller, normally he would just order retreat and abandon his client. But he knows that there is a safe box in the office, so he will try to kill the PC’s and then betray Sir Robert if he is still alive, to keep the contents of the safe box.
The safe box contents depend on the PC party level and the payment. There will be 80% of the money paid, forged identity documents for him and the scribe, fake Deeds for some other places and landmarks in the country and 2 potions. Sir Robert has a beautifully crafted breast mail and a magic rapier (+1).
If the fight happens right in the office or anywhere else inside the city, the local city guard will arrive in 1d4+3 rounds. The city guards know Jovan and his men, they have arrest warrants for them. The PC’s will be thanked for getting rid of those petty criminals. As for the death of Sir Robert d’Avery (if he dies), it would be a very serious crime to kill an anointed knight, except that the fake documents in the safe box prove that he was in fact not a noble.
This oneshot was inspired by one of the most famous con men, George C. Parker, who conducted several illegal purchases of landmarks and buildings with forged documentation.